George Pell’s accuser has released a statement, through his lawyer Dr Vivian Waller, about the High Court’s decision to quash the cardinal’s conviction.
With grace and generosity, Witness J, the man whose evidence was so credible and believable that it compelled a jury to convict Cardinal George Pell of committing child sex offences, assured his supporters he is ok.
“This case does not define me. I am not the abuse I suffered as a child,” he said. “I am a man who came forward for my friend who, sadly, is no longer with us. I am a man doing my best to be a loving dad, partner, son, brother and friend. I am doing my best to find and hold joy in my life and to provide a safe and loving home for my family.”
He said despite the stress of the legal process and public controversy he has tried hard to keep himself together.
“I am OK. I hope that everyone who has followed this case is OK.”
He was understanding of the High Court’s decision, saying he respected and accepted it.
“It is difficult in child sex abuse matters to satisfy a criminal court that the offending has occurred beyond the shadow of a doubt. It is a very high standard to meet – a very heavy burden. There are a lot of checks and balances in the criminal justice system and the appeal process is one of them. I respect that.
“I understand why criminal cases must be proven beyond all reasonable doubt. No-one wants to live in a society where people can be imprisoned without due and proper process. This is a basic civil liberty.”
But, he continued, the price paid for a system weighted in favour of the accused, is that “many sexual offences against children go unpunished.”
That is a harsh reality to accept – and one Witness J hopes won’t deter other victims from pursuing justice.
“I would hate to think that one outcome of this case is that people are discouraged from reporting to the police. I would like to reassure child sexual abuse survivors that most people recognise truth when they hear it. They know the truth when they look it in the face. I am content with that.
“My journey has been long and I am relieved that it is over.”
The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, shared a very simple but powerful message on Tuesday after the decision was announced.
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard did not comment on the HC’s decision but recorded a video message about its impact.
At the other end of the spectrum, seemingly devoid of grace, humility and compassion Pope Francis sent an inexplicable tweet on Tuesday evening.
The contrast between the apparent lack of grace in Pope Francis’ words and the abundant generosity Witness J summoned, even in the face of adversity, could not be more stark.